Planning is an essential component of any kind of business. Creating an annual plan is the best way to assess your progress as it sets expectations for you as well as for your entire team. It gives you the opportunity to look back at what you have and have not accomplished, and set goals for the future. For instance, if you rely on business transcription services for documenting various activities and events, you would need to assess your outsourcing strategy and see if it is economically viable. Similarly, you have to take a close look at your existing financial, marketing and operational plans and chart your plans for the future. Here are some expert suggestions to craft an effective annual plan and to make it work.
Tips to Create a New Business Plan
- Analyze your performance: Reflecting on your performance in the past year will help you accurately set projections for the coming year. Think about what went well and what did not and why. How did you fare against your competition? What insights, knowledge, and skills did you gain and what were reinforced? You should have a good idea of areas where you excel and where you fall short. This will help you create your plan for the year ahead.
- Evaluate your market: Performing a market analysis is an important element in creating a business plan. You need assess your market in terms of various factors such as size both in volume and in value, the various customer segments and buying patterns, your competition, as well as barriers to entry and regulation. For instance, if you own a small restaurant, you have to adopt a local approach and assess the market around your business establishment. In addition to your target customers, your plan should be created around elements such as your unique selling proposition (USP), marketing message, budget, marketing mediums and calendar, and so on.
- Set financial goals and objectives: You need to determine what you will spend your money on and the source of those funds. Budgeting is critical to control your cash flow, while allowing you to allocate resources to new opportunities at the appropriate time. Here too, you need to assess your past experience and decide if you need to spend more or less on in the coming year. Income projections should be made month by month. Take account of factors that could impact your performance for better or for worse such as client attrition, staff changes, market upheavals, etc.
Set SMART goals: Ensure your goals are clear and attainable using SMART guidelines:
- Specific: be clear about your objectives
- Measurable: make sure your goals are meaningful and can be measured
- Achievable: see that you have the time and resources to attain your goals
- Relevant: ensure that your goal is relevant to your business plan
- Time-bound: have a realistic deadline for achieving your target
- Actionable steps to meet your goals: You need to plan how you go about achieving your goals. Your operating plan is an outline of the capital and expense requirements your business will need conduct its day to day operations. If you are targeting a higher growth rate, for instance, consider if you are pitching the right number of clients and clients of the right size, and what it will take to make an effective pitch to your prospects, says a Huffington Post article. You may need to refine your ideal client profile and use that to define a precise set of prospects.
- Business tools and strategies: Streamlined internal and external communication is an essential element of an annual business plan. Consider if you will need new business tools or strategies to achieve your goals. For instance, if you are planning more conference calls to communicate with your far-flung team, it would be practical to outsource conference call transcription instead of doing it in-house. If you are planning to increase personal outreach, you could build a mutually beneficial relationship with sites, bloggers, and webmasters who are ready to provide their services. CRM tools such as Outreach upload a list of contacts or leads to its database, tailor sales messages, and sets up a campaign so that emails are sent to prospects regularly. Website redesign could be another strategy that can help you meet your goals.
- Executive Summary: Some experts recommend writing out the executive summary first. This will ensure that your management team is on the page with the most important points of your annual plan.
Tips to Ensure your Annual Plan remains Relevant
It’s not enough to create an annual plan – you need to ensure it remains relevant throughout the year. Market Advisor offers the following tips to accomplish this:
- Re-evaluate your annual plan periodically: Perform this exercise on a quarterly basis. Check off objectives that have been achieved, renew efforts to accomplish unfinished goals, and discard those that are no longer feasible. Building flexibility into your annual plan will help you so this more effectively.
- Reassess work being done: It’s important to pause a couple of times a year and assess all the work your team performs. Be clear about why you are performing these functions and the consequences of not doing them. This will help you understand if you are making the most of your time and resources. If you find certain activities have no impact on your core goals, let go of them and focus on more important matters.
- Leave time for ad-hoc work: Here too, flexibility is a useful trait. Rather than filling every hour with predictable work, leave time for ad-hoc work. This will make it possible to react and adapt to changing market scenarios.
- Take advantage of new technologies: Obsolete technology can slow you down. To gain that competitive edge and stay ahead with your annual plan, consider advanced project management software solutions. Today’s high-tech platforms increase productivity by allowing businesses to automate many manual, repeatable tasks, collaborate more effectively with their on-site and off-site teams, centralize and manage work requests and schedules, streamline review and approval processes, manage documents in the cloud, and stay updated with the current status of all work.
Outsourcing is a key strategy that businesses use to get several non-core tasks done quickly, effectively and economically. Therefore, experts also recommend scrutinizing your outsourcing plan. Outsourcing services are available for a wide range of business requirements. For instance, outsourcing solutions are available for transcribing audio and video recordings of multiple activities – from conference calls, meetings and interviews to client letters, telephone calls, and market research. If your company lacks internal expertise in digital transcription, you would be better off partnering with a third-party vendor that can do the work cheaper or faster.